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Is this cognate to Ancient Greek ἀράχνη (arákhnē, spider)? Nadando 04:39, 16 February 2009 (UTC)

A derivative of arāneus (spider). Those very similar words for "spider" are found only in Greek and Latin, and tho doubtless related, probably not of Proto-Indo-European origin (beside the lack of cognates and of other productive derivations of the same root, the proto-form would be also difficult to reconstruct formally). According to Beekes, they're most likely both borrowed from some unknown Mediterranean source. If ancient Indo-European, which is not likely, then the word stem is prob. related to Greek ἄρκυς (árkus, net).
According to one theory (itself prob. not worthy mentioning in the etymology sections as being too ORish), those would be compounds originally meaning "wool-spinner", derived from lāna and λάχνη (lákhnē) respectively, both meaning "wool", and comparable to clear-cut Sanskrit compound ऊर्णनाभ (ūrṇa-nābha, spider) orig. from ऊर्ण (ūrṇa, wool) + nābha ( < nāha < root [script needed] (√nah, to bind, tie, fasten)). However, the addition of prothetic word-initial /a/ and the change of /l/ to /r/ (phonetically very trivial sound change, occurring in many languages, e.g. PIE *wĺ̥kʷos (wolf) > Sanskrit वृक (vṛ́kas)) would then be unexplained. So it might be "wool-something" type of compound/derivation in some extinct and unattested IE language, whence borrowed to Latin and Greek, but that remains a big speculation. Like Sanskrit, in lots of languages the word for spider is derived from the root "to spin" (e.g. German Spinne < spinnen). --Ivan Štambuk 04:12, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Thanks, very interesting. Nadando 05:16, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
According to Professor Alfred Ernout and Dictionnaire Étymologique de la langue latin, the word stems undoubtedly (sans doute) from *arak-sn . However, he ends on that and I am not sure what *arak may stand for and whether it has any connection with Greek ἄρκυς. Bogorm 10:57, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Note that according to modern laryngeal theory framework PIE did not have */a/ sound, and that the word-initial ἀC- in Greek is nowadays (usually, it could also come from other sources) reconstructed as a reflex of word-initial laryngeal *h₂C, which would regularly be lost in Latin. Plus there's the problem of this alleged *h₂rh₂ek- (post-PIE > *arak-) stem 1) not having cognates in other IE branches 2) not being productive at all beside in this particular word, and in this reconstructed form cannot be formally matched to ἄρκυς 3) *-sn- is not a valid suffix in PIE (or Greek and Latin, for that matter) derivational morphology AFAIK. Ernout's Dictionnaire from 1951 is a bit outdated when it comes to matters such as this.. --Ivan Štambuk 16:02, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
It is classical, please reconsider misusing that outdated. Atelaes already explained its applicability to science - physics, biology asf., but the entirely different measurement in linguistics. Professos Alfred Ernout is an incontestable authority in research of Latinity. Why, why all these novelties, when all is well explained, cogent and sound in 1951? Bogorm 16:38, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Sorry Bogorm, but the reconstruction of the form *araksn- is way too outdated to be used on Wiktionary. A few centuries ago similar "incontestable authorities" derived Greek and Latin words from Hebrew (the "language of God"). I'm sure that Ernout's Dictionnaire has its place in the annals of linguistic science, just as Etymologicum Magnum, Nirukta writings by Yāska or Pāṇini and other obsoleties do now. I'm not saying that either of them is 100% wrong or obsolete in every respect, but they certainly are in great many, and we simply cannot treat hypotheses and conclusions reached by modern scholarship as being equally conclusive as those of the previous centuries. --Ivan Štambuk 18:18, 20 February 2009 (UTC)